After concussion – you’re not stupid, it just feels that way

After Concussion – You’re Not Stupid, It Just Feels That Way
After Concussion – You’re Not Stupid, It Just Feels That Way

For my special note to doctors, see this post

Update: 12/23/16: I’ve been blogging about how I recover from mild traumatic brain injury for nearly 10 years now. My last mTBI was in 2004, but I’ve had a number of others, and each one was different. As of December, 2016, nearly a quarter of a million visitors have viewed my posts over half a million times. And each one of the hundreds of people who have left comments, have had a different story to tell, as well as different needs to address after their own brain injuries.

I check my site stats, every now and then, looking over the different ways people have found their way to this site, over the past few years. One thing that comes up a lot is questions about concussion and intelligence — being “stupid” after a concussion.

The main thing I hope to convey to people who come to my blog seeking info and reassurance is:

If you’ve recently (or not so recently) had a concussion, and you’re feeling really stupid, know this:

You are not alone.

A lot of people feel stupid after a concussion. In my case, you’d be pretty hard-pressed to convince me that I’m NOT stupid. My sense of being an idiot persists, even to this day – when I know that I’m not less intelligent than the next person because of the head injuries I’ve had.

After all, I have done some pretty lame things in my day, that just looked, well, STUPID. But until I learned about the effects TBI have on you, it never occurred to me that the concussions I’d sustained — in sports (football and soccer) and car accidents and falls — had anything to do with it.

But see, here’s the thing: We grow up learning how to do things a different way. The more you do things a certain way, the better you get at them. We develop skills in certain areas, and our brains get wired specifically to do things a certain way. The better we become at those things the “smarter” we think we are. And we can base a lot of our personal identity on how well we do the things we love to do — or how poorly we do things that we suck at.

It’s all part of who we are, and it’s how we decide what we’re made of and what we’re worth.

But when you have a concussion — a momentary alteration of consciousness that alters your brain function — some of the wiring that lets us do what we do gets mucked up. Even if you don’t lose consciousness, even if you “just” got your bell rung, or you were “out of it” for a while, that alteration of consciousness is a clear sign that the brain function has been interrupted – the brain has been injured.

And then we start to “short out” a little bit. It’s like our brain’s electrical wires got chewed by mice, and the lights start to flicker a little bit.

And then you start to do “stupid” things. Because the autopilot that you used to be on… well, that’s not working the way it used to. The connections in your brain that help one part of you tell the other what to do… that’s messed up. Your transmission is out of whack. And when you think you’re shifting into first gear, you can end up in reverse.

It’s kind of like getting into a car in England or Japan where people drive on the left side of the road, when you’re used to driving on the right. All of a sudden, things are a bit turned around… but you’re not sure exactly why or how. And the turning around seems to come out of nowhere.

Which totally sucks, dude. It totally sucks. Not fun.

So, there you are, going about your everyday life, doing the things you always did before… but all of a sudden, everything is screwed up and nothing makes any sense.

Trust me — it’s not you. It’s the way your brain has been rearranged. It could be that the rearranging will be obvious for only a few hours or days or weeks or months… till you get back into the swing of things and your connections get all sorted out. It could be that your brain gets back online the way it used to — swelling goes down, the gunk that got released in the impact gets cleared out, connections get re-routed or rebuilt — and you get on with your life.

Or it could be that the disruption is really more than you expected (or maybe realized) and you end up walking around in a perpetual WTF?! frame of mind, wondering why the hell things aren’t going as smoothly as they always did before.

Again, it’s not YOU. You’re not stupid, all of a sudden. Your brain took a hit, and it needs some help getting back in the game.

Could be, it takes a lot longer than you expected, for it to get back in the swing of things.

Or it could be that in order to get back in the game, you have to figure out different ways of doing things that really work — instead of the old ways that were dependent on the old wiring.

Granted, it’s not easy to accept the fact that your brain needs rewiring / retraining. But if you were driving down the street by a route you’re accustomed to, and all of a sudden you found the way blocked by unplanned construction, you wouldn’t flip out and blame yourself for being so stupid to try to get down that street. Would you? After all, they didn’t tell you ahead of time that this was happening.

Okay, so maybe you would flip out… but you wouldn’t blame yourself. You’d simply turn your car around and look for a different route. What WOULD be stupid, is trying to force your car down that street when the road is torn open in huge gaping holes, and there are police officers on detail just waiting to arrest you for pushing your way through. You’ve been told clearly that the street is no longer serviceable — you’ve been warned. If you get yourself hurt or arrested, you’ve got only yourself to thank for that.

Now, granted, street construction and concussion aren’t exactly the same thing. And there’s only so much you can expect of yourself, when you’re freshly head-injured. But if you treat the course of your daily life like driving down a road, and you treat the bumps and problems you encounter like potholes and obstacles, it might help put things in perspective.

As human beings, we love to come down hard on ourselves over things that go wrong. We love to look for people to blame — and those people are often ourselves. We also love to think we have a lot more control over life than we actually do. And we love to believe that we have total control and command of our lives.

Sometimes shit happens.

Sometimes concussions happen.

You’re not suddenly stupid.

You just need to retrain your brain.


Did this post help you? Would you like to help me to help others with their TBI issues and recovery by sharing my own experiences of success and hope? You can purchase an eBook version of this post here ($.99 in ePub format), or get a PDF version here (for $19.99). Both are instant downloads. Proceeds from sales help me to help others.

 

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Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

82 thoughts on “After concussion – you’re not stupid, it just feels that way”

  1. I often encourage folks in the BI industry (and it is an industry) to distinguish between the effects of tbi and intellect. Indeed, I call the long term effects of mTBI ‘acquired learning disabilities’. That’s a close description but its not totally accurate. Intelligence is a very loose term – IQ tests are essentially neuropsych tests – so if you do poorly on a neuropsych test your IQ has been considered lowered. BUT in TBI this is tricky because if your processing speed is slowed or you have a visual memory issue it will skew the whole of the score so you can actually be all over the map. Furthermore IQ doesn’t correlate with anything – not with happiness, professional success, positive relationships etc. Many people achieve great things with mediocre IQ’s. There are also ‘cultural’ levels of intelligence such as our ability to read people and situations, our creativity, our ability to see the big picture, and increasingly our ability to multi-task. Other qualifiers that sometimes come into play are attention to detail and ability to focus. Obviously in a TBI survivor, some or all of these things get messed up – some recover on their own, some recover with great effort – others people learn new kinds of adaptations for them. Sometimes it takes years for things to return. It’s also easier in some ways for things to return than to learn something new if you are older – but it is also true that some things don’t return at all.

    The whole concept of intelligence has been controversial for a number of years – even outside of tbi – and continues to be a problem in assessing tbi. There are no instruments or means to accurately assess a person’s ability to function post tbi. What I have found too is that many of the gaffes and blunders tbi survivors make are similar to the symptoms and problems of aging – only they are exacerbated many times – a higher level of forgetfulness for example. Also BI survivors become very self conscious – and this self-consciousness adds a level of stress – under stress most folks’ ‘intellect’ decrements – in BI survivors this is even more true. I have been told that I was the smartest person in the room but I was also the least successful. The feeling of being stupid is a challenge that people need to let go of and move on with – it’s only a barrier to success.

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  2. m –

    How true that ‘intelligence’ doesn’t always count for a whole lot. The idea that TBI is like an aquired learning disorder is something I never thought of before. Good point.

    With me, the whole ‘stupid’ thing gets frustrating because while I intellectually know that I’m no less smart than a whole lot of other successful people, the way I feel is something quite different. And the disconnect between my head and my gut is sometimes insurmountable. Like right about now, when I know I should be asleep, but I can’t seem to turn off the jitters and jangled nerves that have had me up since 1:30 a.m.

    If only I could convince all of me to get in line with what my mind knows…

    But this is one of those nights it’s just not happening.

    I’ll try again tomorrow (today) I guess.

    Thanks for writing

    BB

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  3. When I called a local mentoring program on behalf of a relative, the person who worked at the organization and I started talking about how the youth want to be reassured that they are not stupid. Although some may not agree with all of his methods, Mel Levine seeks to use a students’ strengths to overcome their weaknesses. I saw a dear boy on Ophrah that he was working with who seemed so happy when he told him of his abilities in an area that I think were spatial.

    I could go on and on about my feelings about the word stupid. I know people who constantly label others by that name. And yet, I feel it is very revealing that a person is so quick to label others. Granted, a person in question scores very high an IQ test but they do so many stupid things that may relate to other problems.

    When a high school advisor suggested after my graduating that I might have learning disabilities, I was quite defensive. Now I think it is interesting how people can be good in some areas and have weaknesses in others. As stated before, I am not sure if I have ever had a TBI or a concussion. And yet, I think I can very much relate. I never felt inferior as a child so I don’t know what to chalk that up to for sure. It may have been that the bar was so low. It may have been that I had not been exposed to so much mental abuse until high school. It may have been due to some type of injury or maybe time released gene. From what I heard, people do get rewired in high school to learn things in depth. In many ways, I liked the result although I still have information overload. But as Mel Levine said of a student, it is often not the complexity that is a problem.

    In many ways I feel smart but in some ways I am so inadequate. And I hate how that makes me dependent on others. I am so emotionally independent. I wish I didn’t depend on anybody for anything.

    Well, I am going to try to get someone to fill out a form for my work so that I never have to step foot in the building if my computer goes down. I can’t say that I live in constant fear of that because in the the 2 1/2 years since I came home there has only been a couple of incidents after the first few weeks. I used a personal day on one occassion. Recently, I used a 1/2 personal day but the system may have been up and running if I kept at it. My work computer is different than this computer that I type on for leisure. And I do not use my work computer for leisure. We only get so many personal days so I am so hoping that I can get a doctor to sign it without ever having to set foot in an office. I can never judge situations and whether they are safe so that is way I isolate myself. It is not that I am afraid to reveal how stupid I am. I hate to be annoying. Well, I am not a huge fan of people thinking I am stupid either.

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  4. Great post, I’m 22 and suffered a stage 3 concussion at the end of January this year. That was after getting dumped on my head 2 days earlier on a mountain bike trip.

    Yeah I felt different for a while but I’m learning to adjust… well, so I think or I’m just getting better in general. I’m just thankful for my life and not being handicapped by it.

    Live changes. Learn to adapt and move on. People need you, life is not all about you!

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  5. Thanks!

    Two concussions in 2 days… sounds like an adventure (and I say that in the most realistic way possible).

    Take care of yourself and stay open to what happens. There’s a lot of good to be found in places we never thought to look before — sounds like you already know that, tho’.

    Life does change – true, true. And it’s not all about us. Move on, is right.

    Cheers
    BB

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  6. thank you so much for this post. my boyfriend just had a concussion and i have no idea whats going on with him or even how to react and understand him. this post helped me to understand how he always said the doctors think he is stupid for using kids symbol on him. thank you so much. i’m glad i came across this article.

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  7. You’re very welcome – it can be very confusing and disorienting, and it can also be easy to take things personally. Doctors don’t know nearly as much as they should, and sometimes they just don’t know how to talk to us so we don’t feel like idiots. Then again, sometimes anything anyone says to us will get us going… with concussion, there’s a lot of watching and waiting and trying things out. It’s a process, but hang in there. It’s different for everyone, so keep an open mind — for the sake of your boyfriend AND yourself.

    Cheers
    BB

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  8. I just wanted to say I stumbled upon this, its been a year since my concussion (Or what I think was a concussion) and this makes me feel better. I never went to the doctor even though I asked my parent to take me. I was playing rugby when I was high tackled (by the head), after that all I remember is sitting on the ground thinking ” wtf ” happened, I saw stars, but as the tough hearted person I am, I ignored my coach who told me to sit off and kept playing. As I was playing I kept ignoring the fact that I had no idea what exactly I was doing, but I’m a natural improviser so it was not long before I was back up to speed.

    I also get these funny headaches that come from inside my head, randomly since it has happened, nothing to serious and its getting better and less common.

    I feel like the same person, I think the same, the only difference is the odd feeling that I am somehow less capable. Or that some wiring was destroyed and I will never know exactly what is missing since it would require me to have that missing part to know what it is exactly.

    Confusing I know, because I am confused too. Since the incident my main problem is with time, I feel as if time has no constant, like one minute its morning and then what seems like a second later, the day is over and I’m in bed. I have trouble sleeping, but I did before the incident as well. At the end of the day it seems I have no real perception of time anymore, or hardly and my brain has trouble with schedule. I never get anything I need to get done unless I am told to in the moment. I end up not getting homework or chores done, even If I take them out I still manage to get lost in my head and before I know it I have no time left.

    I have no problem with doing homework or chores, in fact I would love to, I want to go to University and I want to help out around the house and have no laundry on the floor, I just cant find a way to tap into my organization and will power I used to have. Its like the clock in my head is completely destroyed, my memory is worse but still decent, and I have concentration problems that I NEVER had before, I feel impatient.

    Anyways this article made me feel as if I could get back to normal it will just take some training, and I kind of see how I naturally trained myself back to shape in at least someways. This was the extra bit of info I needed to realize its not all that bad. Thanks.

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  9. Thanks for writing Brandon –

    Your experience is quite common, and it’s good you recognize it. I, too, had a terrible time with managing my time for a while. I found that I got so “turned around” I could not make it through getting up, brushing my teeth, eating breakfast, and getting ready for work without taking 2-3 times as long, and losing my place a number of ways. I used lists to help me get things in order. For about six months, I followed a checklist very closely — even the most basic things I wrote down in the order I needed to do them. I also developed a morning routine that I still follow somewhat. I also made sure to exercise for at least 15 minutes as soon as I got up. That helped me wake up and think properly.

    I think you have great potential for doing all the things you want to do. You know you want to do them, you just are not sure how. Try making a list of things you need to do — even the most basic things — and checking it as you go along, and see how that works. Lists are great, because they’re easy to keep with you and check, and nobody needs to know (if you’re like me) that you have lost your way while taking out the trash, and you forgot what you were going to do. That used to happen to me, but thanks to a lot of training and practice, it’s not like that anymore. Most of the time, anyway 😉

    You’re right – it’s not all that bad. Good luck and keep on keepin’ on.

    BB

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  10. Brandon

    In response to the young man with the concussion;

    Sports Concussions are not a joke, take this seriously.

    1. I strongly, strongly urge you to get a neurological evaluation. If your parents are reluctant due to financial reasons if you are under 23 many states will cover the cost. Go to these links and show them this information;

    http://www.headinjury.com/sports.htm

    http://www.biausa.org/brain-injury-awareness-month.htm

    You can also go to your coach and get him/her to support you in this. In fact you should absolutely tell your coach. If they do not respond or they minimize the issue you should go to your schools administrators.

    You should stop playing any contact sport IMMEDIATELY until ALL symptoms have resolved. Second injuries can make the problem far worse and more lasting and pervasive.

    During this time of ‘recovery’ you should minimize your cognitive workload – no video games, action movies, rapid movement, etc. You may need to have a reduced workload in school for a while with extra help and/time for test taking and studying.

    If you do not know of resources seek out your BIA organization. Keep after them, some of them are very limited in staffing.

    You may need some form of cognitive rehab. This is not something you can ‘just’ teach yourself and then you will be normal. While 80% of concussions resolve completely 20% prove to be lasting and lifetime injuries. They may cause behavioral changes, changes in intellectual functioning, increased fatigue, depression, loss of impulse control, and many other issues. If you are under 25 you have an excellent chance of rebuilding your functions back to a level that is highly functional. I don’t say normal because the word is not clear – we all function differently and with time, stress, education, etc our abilities vary considerably. Normal for each person can be different and so it is hard to say what constitutes normal. Many people with mild TBI’s give every appearance of normal and feel normal but make many mistakes, get into trouble a lot, are easily confused etc and they do not realize it is a processing problem. Having a good rehab program CAN pay off – but I admit it is hard to find one (though it is getting better). There are organizational strategies, time management strategies, reading and other compensatory skill strategies – all of which can benefit you for the rest of your life. These are often simply skills that MOST people would benefit from but are especially important in brain injury. If you have a brain injury your brain is constantly working at healing – if you let it heal the ‘wrong’ way it you will constantly struggle – if you get good training you will not have issues later in life. You will need to take extra care of yourself for a while – getting extra sleep, eating wholesome food and having a healthy lifestyle.

    People with BI may feel like they are having psychological issues because of adjustments they are making (or not making) and because they do not have the skills to handle the changes of their injury – and sometimes because of the injury itself. Depression is VERY high in people with BI – as is suicide and substance abuse. Knowing the basis and understanding your emotions, as well as feeling empowered to address the problem can prevent this.

    BI can be a life altering event, there are no quick fixes, the rebuilding process can take years – and I know of no one who says that they feel like they have completely ‘recovered’ – many people do go on and have successful and accomplished lives but they always feel a little different. However, as I said not all concussions lead to lasting brain injuries and even a concussion can take months to subside completely.

    Most states are now passing bills to protect athletes and restrict return to play unless the person has demonstrated that they are no longer symptomatic. They are also requiring coaches to be head injury training. Your coach should learn about brain injury.

    Not to frighten you but head injury can be very serious; repeated injuries lead to complications, especially later in life – and the more times you are injured the greater likelihood you will be injured again due to balance and perceptual and thinking problems. If you do the right things you may be able to play sports again (with care) – if you ignore the problem or minimize it you are jeopardizing your future.

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  11. Thank you for your blogs. Only discovered it now. It feels good to read from others that have the same experiences.
    I had a diabetic blackout while horse-riding in October 2010, and went down in dead weight. Sustained hairline fractures, base of skull fractures, permanent loss of sense of smell and taste, partial deafness in left ear and permanent damage to frontal and temporal lobes. Fortunately, I was considered “High-functioning” but the downside to that is that everyone thought I was okay because I have not lost any motorized skills and functioning, and no-one considered rehab. I told everyone I can not read and retain information or have memory problems, but was told “If it comes back, it comes back, if not, you will learn how to live with it”. It took me 5 months to come out of post trauma amensia, and I lost about 2 months of memory before the accident.

    Several people asked if I’ll be less intelligent now than before the accident, and I’ve learned to respond by saying, I’m wounded, not stupid! From my experience, I’ve found that if you have sustained broken legs or arms, people are more compasionate. But because they can not see the injury, they don’t think you have it. Even though you are still struggling to search inside yourself to relate the “old brain” with the “new brain”.

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  12. Thank you for writing. It is bizarre to have so many issues, yet not have others realize – or if/when they do, have them equate tbi with a change in intelligence. I think a lot of it has to do with the perception that the brain is under our control and the lack of awareness about how big a part it plays in physical functioning. It’s like a “black box controller” that most peolle don’t give a second thought to… until it’s not the same as it was before.

    The problems with reading and comprehension sound familiar. I have stopped reading as much as I have in the past. Part of it is that I have trouble retaining what I read, the other part is that I have lost interest in mamy subjects that used to fascinate me. Now my reading is much more “utilitarian” with a strong slant towards non-fiction and neurology.

    The changes have been pretty hard to take, in large part because they are hidden from others and in part because most people just don’t like to imagine what it must be like to be in my shoes. So they habe less capacity for empathy.

    Good luck with everything – hang in there. It can get better.

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  13. I am currently suffering from the after effects of a very bad head trauma due to a motorcycle wreck. You are right I feel stupid but mostly in pain dizzy sick ti my stomach and I can’t smell or taste food any more. It’s been over a month how long does it take this to get better?

    Congrats to you for improving

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  14. Hi DeeDee,

    Sorry to hear about your motorcycle wreck. I’ll bet you’re lucky to be alive — I’ve heard plenty of stories about what can happen in a motorcycle accident…

    Anyway, it can take some time for things to settle down. It’s different for everyone. The most important thing is to REST — give your brain and your body plenty of rest. Make sure you drink plenty of water and steer clear of the junk foods. Your brain needs to rebuild. I’ve heard people say that sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are very good for your brain, and I do feel better when I drink them – something about the electrolytes and sugars that are readily available to your body to replenish.

    My experience is that when I am in pain and really dizzy and sick to my stomach (which happens to me regularly), it’s best if I get plenty of rest. That can help a lot. My sense of smell has never been that great — either ALL ON or ALL OFF — so that has never really gotten better for me, but I can’t remember it ever being different, so I’m not sure if/when that will clear up for you.

    For me, my issues come and go, but being really stressed over it and wanting it to hurry up(!) is even harder on me than the actual issues. The stress and hurry makes everything worse — and it makes me really tired, which just makes everything more extreme.

    With me, it has literally taken years for some things to get better, but other things have gotten better much more quickly. I “just” fell down some stairs in 2004, but it totally messed me up (my neuropsych says it’s because I’ve had a bunch of concussions in the past). It took me years to realize that something was wrong, to begin with. In your case, you already know, so it will make more sense to you to take good care of yourself. With me, I didn’t realize, and I pushed myself WAY too hard, and it sent me off the rails in a big way.

    In your case, you might find things clearing up in a few weeks, a few months, and some things might be problems over the long term. It’s different for everyone. Exercise has helped me a lot, as well as cutting back on a lot of extra activities. Like I said, it’s different for everyone, but you are definitely not alone.

    Good luck and be well
    BB

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  15. Thank you so much for this post.. I just fell last week and have a concussion due to the fall. I didn’t realize it was such a big deal until the symptoms started with headaches, nausea, balance issues, slight memory loss, confusion etc.. and feeling really, really off. I went to my doctor and she said that I do indeed have a concussion. I’ve never had one like this before, and I have felt “stupid” and really weird. I almost feel like a different person! I have noticed that I have trouble doing the same things I could do before like work etc. I’m a classical pianist and at my performance last night, I could hardly read the notes coherently! It was very frustrating. I can’t wait to feel like my normal self again.

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  16. Hi Erin,

    Sorry to hear about your fall. Make sure you take care of yourself and get plenty of rest. Pushing yourself to perform might not be the best thing to do right now. Your brain has to recover from the chemicals that got released when you fell, and it needs to clear that out. Also, you may need to get different connections in place in your brain to do the things you’re used to doing.

    Most people recovery within a few weeks to a few months. If you are still having trouble after a few months, check with your doctor. Concussion can be a big deal, but of course it’s different with everyone. The main thing is to take care of yourself and don’t push yourself too hard for a few weeks. And take care that you don’t hit your head again. You definitely do not want another head injury before this one has cleared.

    Good luck and take care

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  17. Thank you!
    I appreciate the kind words.
    I’m definitely going to be very careful these next few months to not hit my head again. That is exactly what my doctor said, that it could take up to six months for it to be cleared, with the symptoms lasting up to six weeks… scary! Glad I just finished finals!
    It’s so nice to know something about what is going on in my brain, because this is quite a new experience for me.
    I guess I’ll be having a lazy, relaxing summer (hopefully)!!
    Thank you again!
    -Erin

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  18. Sure thing Erin – sounds like a perfect plan for summer. Just remember, when things seem strange or unfamiliar, your brain might need to remember/relearn how to do some things. No big deal – like learning anything, really. You just have to be patient and give yourself a little extra time. You may find yourself getting impatient, now and then, but take it easy and keep going, and things can work themselves out.

    Best of luck – enjoy your summer!

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  19. Your blog is amazing! I’ve had a handful of sports-related head injuries myself and I don’t think people realize how someone can truly be affected in normal day-to-day activities. Knowing what you have to do/say but your brain not processing everything on its way out, it’s frustrating. It’s been about a year since my last concussion, but I still feel “off” sometimes. Your posts are inspiring, I look forward to continue reading your blog. Thank you!

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  20. Thank you for writing this, even if it was a year ago. Made me feel a lot better while I’m struggling recovering from my 3rd concussion (second this school year). I just wish you could be more certain with the kinds of things like WHEN the wiring is back to normal

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  21. Hi – and thanks for writing.

    Concussion is hard. Not having any certainty is one of the hardest things about it, for sure. And if you’ve had several, it can be nerve-wracking, because each time things can get a little worse — for me, I went through a number of them, without really realizing the impact they could have on me — I just muddled and soldiered through and made the best of it, all the while struggling in ways I didn’t fully realize. Then BAM I got hurt in 2004, and everything went to hell. I wonder a lot of times if things might have been different, if I’d spent time resting and recuperating after my prior concussions, rather than running right back into the fray. I never got help, never got much-needed information (which it sounds like you have), so for me things got pretty bad later on.

    You’re in a position where things don’t have to be like that for you. It is stressful, waiting for things to normalize again, and it’s so hard because we literally cannot see what’s going on in our brains. All we can see are symptoms and signs, and sometimes we don’t want to look at them, because they mean bad news.

    I’m not sure that we ever go back to “normal” because when the brain changes, well, it changes. That doesn’t need to be a bad thing, though. In a way, our brains are never normal, if we are living life to the fullest, because they are always changing with each new thing we experience and do. So, in a way, being normal is a sign that things are not as dynamic and growing as they could be.

    Hang in there and take it easy — there will be plenty of time later to go all-out. Just not yet. Patience will pay off.

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  22. It seems the concussion I had last year is still affecting me . I recently did something stupid and it reminded me of the stupid things I did after my concussion. I liked to think the wiring in my brain was pretty much back to normal, Yesterday, however, I signed my credit card in permanent marker at the top rather than the middle strip on the card. I was struggling to find where to sign and must have tried signing in the wrong spot. When that didn’t work, I asked to borrow a permanent marker while I was at a store and used it. When I looked again today, I couldn’t believe I had missed the obvious strip designated for signing. I noticed behaviors like this last year for the first time, where things I had once done automatically seemed so difficult, and I felt that something wasn’t connecting and it took much longer for things to register in my mind. I also noticed many more typos and that it doesn’t come out correctly as often when I type. I still feel like the I have to correct many more typos than pre-concussion and that it’s harder to find words. I am also still really bothered by loud music, which never bothered me before the concussion. I thought this had gotten better, but when I had to be at a dance last night, I found it so painful I stood in the coat room. I still had an earache and headache this morning, though it’s better now. Do you think it’s helpful to see a neurologist? I never had an MRI.

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  23. Hi Sue,

    Sorry to hear about the latest “interesting” developments in your life. It sounds really familiar. Signing your credit card in the wrong place sounds like something I would do, myself. That happens to me when I am overwhelmed and tired and there is too much going on around me, for me to focus on what is in front of me.

    And typos and misspellings — which were rarely a problem for me in the past, all of a sudden started cropping up after my fall in 2004. Misspell words? Who, me? When I started misspelling words and missing things, it really freaked me out, because that was always one of my top points of pride — being able to spell and write without those kinds of errors.

    Years later, I still have some issues with it, but I’ve trained myself to pay extra attention and double-check my work, just in case I mess up, which I sometimes do.

    Loud music is a killer for me. I just can’t do it. I used to just put my head down and soldier through it, but that’s way too much energy for me. I’d rather just avoid it. I spend a lot of time on the fringes at events like that, usually hanging out with other people who also have issues and don’t want to look too dorky, hiding in the cloakroom. There are more of us than we realize, thought it’s not always TBI/concussion. But not everybody loves loud music, even though sometimes we have to be around it.

    As for a neurologist, I have not had good experiences with them. I see a neuropsychologist regularly, who helps me sort through my experiences, so I don’t get thrown off and overwhelmed. They’re like a “post-concussion coach” and they know about all the things that can go wrong… and they know how to help me work out alternatives to things that aren’t working. Having someone in my court who I can talk to freely about what’s going on with me, has been instrumental in just calming me down and helping me get a clearer idea of what my options are.

    I had an MRI, but it was all clear. Concussions often don’t show up on MRIs because the injury is very subtle and hidden in the microscopic neurons and synapses and axons and all the tiny wiring in our heads.

    Another thing to keep in mind is the possible impact to your medical history, if you start turning to experts for help. I pretty much got blacklisted by neurologists in my area, because they all thought I was drug-seeking or trying to outsmart the insurance companies, and they shared notes with each other. Fortunately, my main doctor has two sons who are both neurologists, so when I talk to them they can refer to their kids for that kind of guidance. They are also very sympatico with me, and I can talk freely with them.

    It’s very important to have someone “in your court” when you start looking for professional help – I would recommend you contact your local Brain Injury Association office (http://www.biausa.org/state-affiliates.htm) to talk to someone about your situation. It’s very normal to believe that neurologists and imaging will provide answers you need and the guidance you are looking for, however unless they are really familiar with concussion, you can find yourself combating their biases and struggling to explain – when they are the ones who should be explaining to you.

    Your local BIA chapter may be able to help you find someone to work through your issues – and it sounds like a neuropsychologist could be a lot more help to you than a neurologist. And the Give Back LA TBI recovery materials at http://www.givebackla.com/?cat=1 can be a huge help. They really saved my butt, at the start — lots of really great information to put into action.

    Anyway, I hope this has been helpful. Good luck and hang in there.

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  24. Brandon –

    BB’s comments are spot on – though you may have to see if neurologist if you have insurance that requires it for the neuropsych evaluation – they can be very expensive. Also it sounds like you may need a neuro-opthamalogist -this is not that your eyesight is bad but rather that your brain is having a hard time processing the information from your vision correctly. Some urban areas do have outpatient tbi programs – and, again, if you have the insurance or a state waiver, you can get a range of services – PT, OT, neuro-psych, some forms of cog rehab etc. Not all programs are equal but they can be a starting point.

    BIA’s may or may not be able to guide you – some are very strong and have great resources, others not. They usually don’t give a specific doctor name out for legal reason. There is also the BIAA (Brain Injury Association of America) and the USBIA – the United States Brain Injury Association. Some of the state chapters broke away from BIAA and formed a kind of trade group. So not all BIA’s in the state are listed with BIAA – you might need to check the USBIA.

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  25. I stumbled upon your blog while researching why my daughter is all of a sudden failing in school and other areas. She suffered a pretty nasty blow to her head by her volleyball coach (who was later let go), and was diagnosed a week later by the school trainer after nearly collapsing on the running track. She was pulled from sports and school for a week and had lots of headaches and eye pain. The blow even tore the tear duct in her eye and when she received an x-ray her neck looked like it was a greater-than sign. Had a lovely kink in it. She went hiking a few weeks later and somehow stumbled and sprained her ankle. Not at all like her to stumble. She tried to take it easy over the summer and decided not to play volleyball because she was not only hurt physically but emotionally as well by the way her coach denied that she ever hit my daughter. Now 5 months later she is failing in 3 of her classes which is completely not her. She has always been an honors student with nothing less than a B in her classes. Now she has two D’s and an F! She is having extreme difficulties with anger and stress and cognition. Her doctor thinks it’s anxiety/depression but I think those are symptoms and I am now of the belief that maybe the concussion has caused this as there have been no other life changes/traumas to relate to her difficulties. I wanted to tell you I appreciate the blog and the comments..validation to my thoughts and concerns. Next stop is for counseling. Keep us in your thoughts. Dallys

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  26. Wow, sorry to hear about your daughter’s difficulties. Concussion – especially when it goes undiagnosed – can really do a number on you over time. In some ways, it can even get worse over the long term, as was my experience. It’s really good that you’re recognizing this — be careful of docs who diagnose depression and prescribe meds for it — that can backfire and do the exact opposite of what is needed. After a concussion, the brain can be very “hungry” and “thirsty” and take more energy to do basic things — think of it like you’re going through a familiar area, where there was a recent storm, and you have to find all sorts of detours to get from Point A to Point B — not like before, when the path was clear. With concussion and other “diffuse” injuries, where different sections of the brain are twisted and frayed, it’s like wading through the underbrush, with your brain always looking for the right path. As in literal life, that takes a lot more energy than just sticking to a well-worn trail.

    The brain can and does “re-groove” patterns, but it takes time and practice. None of us learned to walk and talk and run and play and do well in school overnight, and the same goes for after concussion – it takes more time for the brain to re-learn things, and often it doesn’t even realize it needs to re-learn anything, so it keeps running into the same problems over and over again.

    One thing that really helped me was seeing a chiropractor. That helped me get my frazzled nervous system back together and also helped with the neck issues I tend to have. I hope your daughter saw someone who could fix that “crick”.

    As for counseling, not all therapists are familiar with TBI/concussion, and sometimes they mistake neurological issues for psychological ones — and then they start digging around for “what’s wrong”. I have seen therapists who did that, and it really did a number on me, because my emotional issues weren’t related to interpersonal problems, they were related to underlying neurological issues which were the cause of my interpersonal issues.

    Needless to say, I quit therapy. I haven’t been back since, and I am much happier, as a result.

    If you can find a qualified neuropsychologist to work with, that might prove helpful for your daughter. She really needs to see someone who knows about concussion and TBI. When people don’t, it can sometimes cause unnecessary problems.

    Most of all, know that you are not alone, and that things can get better. Knowing that there is an issue, and factoring that in is an important first step, and you’ve already done that.

    Best of luck – hang in there!

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  27. im a kid and i was reading this. i got hit pretty hard at a hockey game on the head. and ever since then i cant remember things as i used to, i forget how to spell words i used to use everyday, i dont feel motivated to go to school, i feel like i cant even focus anymore the way i used to be able to. trust me im not looking for excuses to be lazy at school i just honestly dont like where im heading. i used to get good grades just by memorizing the lessons now i cant even remember how to do my homework. plus ive been acting differently too, ever since then i seem more mean to the people i know. how do you train your brain back from that?

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  28. Hi – first off, sorry to hear about your it at the hockey game. That can happen a lot in hockey. The first thing you need to do is rest your brain – take time off from the computer and other screens, and just rest. Your brain has been flooded by a lot of chemicals that usually aren’t there, and it can take some time for it to get cleared out again. Make sure you drink plenty of water and also don’t eat a lot of junk food, which could be difficult at this time of the year. I have had all the problems you describe, and it took a while for things to clear up — but a lot of it has, or I have gotten used to handling it. Just hang in there and focus on taking care of yourself — that’s your new “job” and the more chance you give yourself to recover, the better your chances of recovery are. After a while, you can train your brain back — but you need to let yourself rest, first. It’s boring, I know, and it can drive you crazy. But it’s better than hurting yourself more.

    Good luck! Hang in there!

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  29. Hi. I was so glad to find this blog. I was in a car accident in July 2012. I don’t really remember the accident. All I remember was that I was driving and then my car was out of control. I don’t remember being hit, or any loud noises from when the guy hit my car. Everyone at work said that it was probably because it happened so fast, but I’ve always wondered if I lost consciousness for a few seconds. I ended up being diagnosed with a concussion in December 2012. I had treatment, but I still feel stupid. I’m very forgetful, with words and conversations. I’ve been wanting to search to see if concussions make you forgetful for a while now, but only just remembered to do it tonight. I’ve wondered if it was the concussion making me this way or if I was just getting Dementia at 31 years old. A couple times I mentioned to someone that I have trouble speaking, finding words, because of the concussion, and they told me that it shouldn’t be affecting me anymore. So I doubt myself and wonder again if I have Dementia. I finally remembered to do a search on feeling stupid after a concussion. This was one of the first pages to pop up. It makes me feel better to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way, while another part of me still wonders if I’m getting early onset dementia at 31 years old. My dream was to be a writer, a dream that I’ve always had, but since the accident, my memory has been so bad that I won’t even consider going to college to get a degree to write what I want because I won’t remember anything that I learned. I don’t have any retention anymore, either. I want to go see a neurologist so bad, my doctor even recommended someone for me to go see, and I can’t afford to. Anyway, thanks for the blog, It was good to read.

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  30. Hi Daisy,

    First of all, you are *not* crazy, and I really doubt that you’re experiencing early onset dementia. All your symptoms you describe sound exactly like post-concussion (mild traumatic brain injury) issues. My memory was awful for a number of years, to the point where I gave up reading anything other than short pieces online. I couldn’t read the books that people gave me for my birthday — and I was always a big reader — because I could not remember what was going on, from one page to the next. Sometimes I would forget from one paragraph to the next.

    This has all changed dramatically. It took a few years, and it took very concentrated effort (and there were some setbacks), but I am not reading a couple of books that really interest me.

    For your memory issues, please be aware that often concussion/mtbi symptoms start to show up months, even years, after the initial injury. If you can’t remember what happened in the accident, it could be that you lost consciousness, or the part of your brain that records the memory was affected. It happens a lot, so don’t sweat it. You may remember, or you may not. Whatever. Your life does not necessarily depend on it. If you take the pressure off, you can find other ways of learning to remember — I made some big changes in how I do things to compensate for my terrible memory. I keep a lot of notes, I leave stickie notes for myself on the back sliding door, so I see them when I am going in and out of the house, and I keep a notebook where I write everything down that I’m supposed to do. There are ways around this, and if you can get some of your own supports in place, that can actually help your brain recover and redevelop its capacities. No guarantees for you — or anyone — but it’s helped me a ton.

    Even so, there are times when I cannot remember much of anything at all — the other day I spent $75 at the hardware store, and later I could not remember exactly what I bought. All I know is that at the time I believed it was all important, and I didn’t buy anything frivolous. But other than that, it’s a blank for me. Oh, well… life goes on, you know?

    With regard to finding words, that’s totally consistent with concussion. People are terribly ignorant about how it can affect you, and they think that because you present normally, you’re perfectly fine. Oftentimes, it’s far from it. I have trouble finding words, too, and it’s been nine years since my last concussion. I hope this doesn’t frighten you – everyone is different, and your problems could resolve much more quickly than mine. And/or you can find ways of working around it.

    As for your dream of becoming a writer, don’t give up on that! No way. Think about this — plenty of genuinely dim people go to college and learn how to do things in a fairly decent manner, just because they are told that’s what they should do. And some of them become quite successful, regardless of their “intelligence level”. You seem quite bright, and if writing is your passion, that will carry you through and help you restructure your brain in positive ways. It may even help you “upgrade” your brain — because now things are a little jumbled up, and you have the chance to re-order them along the lines that you want.

    Never, ever give up on your dreams. Even if you think you may not do it well. So what? Plenty of people do things poorly and enjoy themselves. I’m not saying that you WILL do poorly — just don’t let the fear of that keep you from it. Because the more you do something, the better you get.

    And one last thought — writing on this blog on a regular basis has really helped my brain to learn to organize and express ideas much more clearly. Look back at my posts from five years ago, you may see what I mean. I was a bit of a raving maniac, back then, and I was “all over the place”. But this blog has helped me to move forward.

    You may want to start a blog yourself… I would recommend you write about something other than your difficulties with your concussion, because if people know who you are, they may jump to conclusions and judge you and treat you poorly — and you don’t want that hanging over your head this early in your life. At 31, you have many years ahead — and they can be good years, even with this concussion “in the mix”.

    Again, I wouldn’t worry about the dementia. You may want to see if you can find a neuropsychologist, who can help you understand exactly how your brain has been affected and suggest ways for you to address those issues. If you have insurance, it may pay for it. But you may need to see a neurologist first. I had to go through hell to actually get to a neuropsychologist, but it was well worth the pain (and humiliation). Six years later, my life is so dramatically different from how it once was, I can’t even begin to say.

    So, best of luck to you and don’t let go of your dreams. People don’t know much of anything about concussion, but be aware that everything you are experiencing is normal for someone who was concussed — even months later. Some of my issues only showed up a few years after my last TBI, but I have taken steps to address then, and they don’t stop me from living my life to the fullest.

    Have a great day and a wonderful new year!

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  31. I walked into a steel pole at work about a month ago. I didn’t pass out and I actually remember it happening and what had happened before and after. I’m sure I suffered a slight to mild concussion, I’m not certain. I believe I smashed my nose and didn’t really hit my head but may have hit my forehead, I never went to the Doctor’s but have for the most part been fine. I still wonder though if I did any lasting damage, cognitive speaking. I would like to think I fully recovered and I’m glad other people out there are talking about their accidents and I hope all of you guys/girls come out on top.

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  32. Thanks – for most people, walking into a steel pole isn’t going to mean the beginning of a downward slide to dementia. It all depends on people’s histories of concussion/TBI, as well as a million other factors that are hard to track. So, it’s almost impossible to tell if you did any lasting damage. But I can assure you that our brains are very adaptable, and when we train them different ways, we can overcome some pretty daunting issues. Our brains are actually designed to adapt, so if you feel like you’re a bit “off” after your accident, rest up and take good care of yourself. Eat healthy foods and get exercise. You can direct your energy towards fine-tuning your thinking ability and teaching your mind new ways of doing things.

    Worrying about lasting damage… well, there are a whole lot of other things you can do with your time and attention that are going to be a lot better for you, in the short and long term.

    Be well and take care…

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  33. Made me feel better. Ive had two concussions and always wondered if it made my irrecoverably stupider.

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  34. Glad to hear it. When I start feeling like my concussions have set me back, I tend to look around at other people… and I realize I’m not much worse off than a lot of folks. But at least I know why 😉

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  35. Thanks for the reply brokenbrilliant. I’m not saying I’m severely hampered, I guess it’s just I am a bit of a hypochondriac and I always fear the worst. I know most humans will suffer a slight to mild concussion at some point in their lifetime, all of the different interactions we go through, not to mention athletes, it is bound to happen at some point.

    I can’t really be sure if anything did or didn’t happen after walking into the steel pole, I’m pretty sure I broke my nose, other than that I don’t know if a concussion was suffered. I considered myself above average intelligence before the incident, as of now I really don’t know. I used to have an excellent vocabulary and my spelling was really good. I think I have struggled slightly with both since the incident but it’s hard to pinpoint anything. Granted, it happened a few months ago so maybe I’m still recovering? I guess my biggest fear is that I lost something that I cannot get back as far as intelligence. When we hit our heads or suffer concussions, how much intelligence do we stand to lose?

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  36. These are all valid concerns. Everyone is affected differently by concussion, and one of the things that we all have in common is that stressing does not help. Here’s the thing — when we are stressed and worried, our bodies are very busy routing energy towards avoiding the danger we perceive, and we cannot route the energy towards healing whatever got messed up. So, our natural in-born desire to keep ourselves safe can actually work against us — and the mind-numbing stress response can dull our normal behavior, making it less intelligent than before.

    So, we have two fronts to fight on — the injury itself, which can heal… and our worries and stress over the effects of the injury, which slows down our healing.

    There’s a big paradox here — the more concern we have about impairment, the more chances there are that we will be impaired.

    In order to learn and grow and retrain itself, the brain needs to chill and run its natural course — which is to heal and grown and learn and re-learn. When we are worrying over every single stage of our recovery, we keep that from happening.

    When we hit our heads, the connections in our brains can fray and tear and get “re-routed”. That causes a temporary loss in intelligence. Over time, with ample rest, attention to details, and mindful re-training, we can restore our intelligence and develop other ways of being smart that we never had before (because we didn’t really need it). Some things can become more difficult for us. For me, short-term working memory has really taken a hit, and it has really impacted my ability to learn new things quickly. That’s just not happening for me, like it used to. I have to constantly practice what I learn, or it goes away.

    But other things can be developed. For me, that has been working with other people and having more healthy and satisfying interpersonal relationships. I have also become much more efficient in my working style, which I needed to do. And I have become much better at doing objective appraisals of my life and activities and quality of work. I’ve also become much more systematic, which I sorely needed to do, but never thought I had to.

    So, in answer to your question “how much intelligence do we stand to lose?” my personal experience response is — as much as we allow ourselves to lose.

    The other part of the question is, “how much intelligence do we stand to gain?” Because as we gain our new skills and new intelligence, you can discover that not only did you learn new skills and become smarter in certain ways, but your old ways of being smart have come back to you.

    So, you’re twice as well-off as you were before.

    It doesn’t happen for everyone, and with me it tends to be variable and inconsistent, but I really need to keep positive in my life, and I try to look on the bright side.

    Otherwise, it all becomes way too depressing, and I don’t want to get out of bed. Staying in bed is not an option for me. So, I kind of have no other alternative than to make the best of things and keep my spirits up. The cost of not doing so is much too steep.

    Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend — and relax… things do get better, if we let them.

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  37. I love you explain having a head injury. Your example of driving and the road being blocked is a very good example of how we must relearn to put our lives back in the right direction. Thank you for following my blog. Yours is informative and interesting.

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  38. Hi. I left a comment in December on this post. Since then, I’ve had another concussion. I fell on some ice back in February. The next day, my nose started dripping. Ugh. I hate that. Most of the time it would drip while leaning forward, which I do most of the day at my job. It still does drip occasionally. I feel even more scatter brained since then. I sometimes feel like my brain is trying to pull me in two different directions, if that makes any sense to you. (I can’t remember any of your other posts, so I don’t remember what else you’ve said. Somehow this one stuck with me.) anyways, I found out about two months ago that a coworker of mine was in an accident back in December, and she has a concussion. So we started discussing how it felt. I have to tell you, she said she felt so much better knowing she wasn’t the only one who felt like that afterwards. So I gave her the address to your blog. And then a couple of weeks ago another coworker of mine told me she was finally understanding how I feel. The one that had the accident has been talking to the other about her concussion, and the other one said she never realized how much it really affects a person until now. She said I made comments every once in a while that made her wonder, but I’m not really a person to go talking about anything and everything for no reason, so I never really talked about it with anyone. This time around, though, I don’t feel as bad. Because of reading your blog, I know it’s a normal thing to go through. It’s still frustrating as hell, but I don’t get as angry with myself for not coming up with easy words or for forgetting to do something. Thank you.

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  39. Thanks for writing! Sorry to hear you fell again. Sometimes that can’t be helped 😦 I’m really happy to hear that my blog is helping you, and that help is getting around. It can be very tough to handle this alone, and knowing that there are others out there can make all the difference. That’s the big reason I keep this blog. Sometimes I get tired of hearing myself “talk”, but then I remember all the folks who have written and told me they appreciate hearing this point of view, so I keep at it and do my best to create something useful for others, as well as myself. Take good care and keep up the great work. These things are normal to go through — and there are ways to deal with them. Just be smart about it, take time to think things through, and don’t hesitate to give yourself some extra slack. If you don’t, who will? Be well.

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  40. Hey. I had made a few posts in the past regarding hitting my head. Well, I’m back to it again. The other day, I was getting into a friend’s car after a sleep deprived night and a long shift at work. I hit the left top side of my head against the car door frame, my initial reaction was “Great, here we go again, ugh”. I sometimes feel that my feet get a bit tingly and my head feels like there is a knot somewhere but for now I’m going to deal with it. My biggest fear and I have stated this before is that I am somehow losing intelligence every time I hit my head which I know isn’t really true but I do have mild hypochondria. I just wish I didn’t think so much about it, I’m pretty sure I need to see a psychologist. Sincerely, Nick.

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  41. Hey Nick,

    Yeah, that happens to me, every now and then. I hit my head on something, especially when I’m tired or distracted.

    I’m not sure we can actually lose intelligence when we hit our heads repeatedly (at least, I hope not). The thing is, the “wiring” that connects everything can get frayed or disrupted, so the signals have a harder time getting where they need to go. We can find new ways for our brains to transmit signals, but it takes time. And rest. And proper nutrition.

    Thinking too much about it and stressing over it is actually counter-productive, because the stress actually makes it harder to learn. And our brains need to do just that — keep learning.

    So, it probably makes sense to relax about it. If you see a psychologist, make sure they know about concussion and TBI. Otherwise, they can interpret your issues as emotional ones, and that can open a whole can o’ worms that doesn’t help you sort things out. That happened to me in the past, and it really sidetracked me from my recovery.

    Use your best judgment… and good luck.

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  42. I googled “feeling stupid after a concussion” and came here. I’m 24 and 2 years ago I had a self-diagnosed concussion in a wake boarding accident. I didn’t pass out but I had a hard time seeing things and my head literally felt like it was going to explode. I was squeezing my head on both sides to try to find some relief… it was very very painful. The thing is I’ve felt “different” ever since then. I couldn’t figure out if I was just having mood swings or what but in the span of two years i’ve noticed that I have greatly lost my concentration abilities. I was even convinced that I had ADHD for a while because concentration got really hard for me in college. I have a hard time reading now. Things like comprehension, remembering what I read are really hard to do all the sudden. For example, I often struggle understanding metaphors in fiction, something I never thought would be a hard thing to do. I will reread sentences and paragraphs often…. sometimes way too often. I also feel like I lost a lot of impulse control. I dropped out of college my junior year because I couldn’t keep a balance between classes and homework, even with a greatly reduced schedule. I’m at the point right now where I can only focus on one thing at a time and that often leaves me exhausted to dealing with other important things. Before the concussion I was a scholarship student living on my own, had a job and now I live at home and am i’m enrolling in an IT job training program for inner city youth because I feel like i’ll be able to keep up with the pace there. More than anything, I just really feel unmotivated, depressed, dumb, and emotionally withdrawn. I don’t like this new me. Deep down I somehow know this is because of that accident… Is there hope for me?

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  43. Hi, yes there is hope for you. Taking good care of yourself and always learning how to better live your life is key. We all need to make choices, and recovering from concussion is all about choices. It can take quite a while for things to start feeling normal again… or it might never feel the same. Don’t give up. Life is all about change. We just need to learn to find peace. Good luck.

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  44. I suffered a concussion roughly 7 months ago and experienced onset side effects several weeks after the incident. I went to multiple doctors, knowing that there was something wrong with my vision.

    I started having binocular vision, tracking, and divergence problems. Both eye doctors concluded that there was nothing wrong with my vision, however I took what they said with a grain of salt (knowing what “Good” literally looks like pre-concussion). So, I turned to a visual therapist and subsequently diagnosed with Convergence/Divergence Insufficiency. I am now into my 3rd month of therapy and I can say that most, if not all, of my PCS symptoms have become A-symptomatic.

    Initially I had problems remembering words, misspelling words, and remembering to do lists. I could not focus on computer screens, peoples faces, or accurately track crowds from a long distance thus leading to eyestrain and migraines everyday! I attest that all of these symptoms stemmed from a concussion exacerbating visual performance.

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  45. Thanks BB for this lovely post. I’m just a neuroscience student in Chicago so I find your insights surprising and informative. I look forward to reading more from you.

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  46. I can relate..it’s so frustrating! had my concussion for 4 months ago. I burn food, stutter, forget things and it drives me nuts! I get so upset and if anyone (spouse) tells me to ‘pay attention,’ ‘get it together,’ or anything even remotely addressing my inability to do this gs like I used to i tend to go off the handle. My poor spouse has said things like lately you are so unorganized, or I don’t get how you can forget that you had food in the crock pot and I feel like a failure. I recently decided to go to counseling…. thank you for the article it helps me remember that I’m not alone in this.

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  47. Oh, well, it sounds like your spouse could use some concussion education. Finding fault with you is just adding stress, which makes it harder to recover. Be gentle with yourself, and keep in mind that TBI can make you very emotional for neurological reasons – not emotional ones – and sometimes counseling looks for deep dark secrets that they think are upsetting you, when it’s actually your tired brain and “frayed wiring” that’s making you feel the way you do.

    I forget things all the time. At least my own spouse has sort of gotten used to it, by now 😉

    Hang in there, take good care, get plenty of rest, and be kind to yourself. These things can take time to get sorted out.

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  48. wow this is exactly the way I feel almost everyday… I am glad I am not alone…
    I had a fall when I was around 13 years old (I am 28 now) I went unconscious for a few minutes and ended up in the hospital, got out the same day but struggled to talk for a few days afterward.. never thought too much about it since my dad being a Doctor didn’t make a big deal about it and well I was just a kid.
    However I have been feeling stupid, weird, less intelligent than all around me for the last 10 years… I suffer social anxiety, I became an introvert, college was a nightmare for me, not all the time but almost all of it. I struggle so much reading books, trying to retain new information, and even trying to recover memories or remembering stuff.
    I got a bachelors in electrical and computer engineering and already forgot all about it…
    it is frustrating to say the least…
    Currently I work as a developer and IT, I love all about computers and programming but I struggle a lot trying to learn new programming languages and concepts.. I am always afraid my employer is going to realize I am not capable and fire me..
    I feel embarrassed and kind of jealous all the time.. and even more to now see my brother (4 years younger than me) learning tons of things about programming and successfully working as a web developer on the side when this is supposed to be my field and he is just doing it as a hobby and to get some extra money…
    hmmm… I am sorry I just had to vent..
    I have been thinking on getting officially diagnosed or something.. I just have no idea where to go to..
    by any chance do you know what kind of doctor will be the right doctor to contact?

    Thank you for reading me..

    Like

  49. Hi Sophia,

    I’m glad you found your way here. A lot of people stop by to share info that’s very similar to yours.

    As far as doctors go, a neurologist would probably not be able to tell you much. A neuropsychologist would probably be more qualified – but you’ll need to have some justification for seeing them. It sounds like you have plenty of reason to seek help, and I can relate to a lot of what you say. People doing things “for fun” that you have had to work really hard at, is a tough thing to watch. That’s happened to me a lot.

    I recommend reaching out to your local Brain Injury Association (BIA) chapter and asking if they have any recommendations for doctors. You have to be very careful, because a lot of doctors actually work for insurance companies and make it their business to prove there is nothing wrong with you. Talk to your local BIA folks — you can find them online — and see if they can help you.

    An official diagnosis may or may not help. If you need advanced assistance, then a neuropsych will have a billing code to use. But in terms of a diagnosis helping you get through life, I have found that telling others about my history of brain injury and everything it’s done to me, just freaks people out and they treat me differently. Not worth it.

    At least you have your work. I was a web developer for many years, because it let me learn as I went, and I got immediate feedback. Unfortunately, after my TBI in 2004, I stopped being able to read and retain what I’d read, so keeping up with everything was not an option. I made a number of different moves, and now I occasionally write code — just not as frequently as before.

    Good luck to you — keep working at it, especially the reading. It took me years to get that back, but I’m much better now.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Thank you so much for this article. I just sustained a concussion from a fall earlier this year. It’s been nearly 3 months and today is a bad day, where I’m screwing things up left, right & centre. In tears, I googled “concussion recovery getting stupider” and the link to your post came up. Your words were very comforting because things in my brain just aren’t connecting like they used to. I’m back at work full time but working from home (which is a good thing, because of the tears today) a couple of days a week. I don’t know how to get back into the swing of things, truly. I guess just time. I’m going to keep referring to your article, especially since my memory isn’t the greatest, either, ha, ha.

    Liked by 2 people

  51. Hi Susan, well, I am glad you found your way here, but I’m not glad you’re having a tough time. These things take a while to sort out. Just remember that tbi recovery is like learning anything new – you have to be patient with your brain, while it gets the hang of things again. Get plenty of rest and be kind to yourself. It gets better.

    Like

  52. Thank you for this post! Seven years ago today, my parents were involved in a near-fatal car wreck in which they suffered extensive internal injuries, including traumatic brain injuries. They lived, thank heaven, but they’ll never be quite the same. I posted this on my Facebook profile for them and anyone else I know who might have suffered something like this. Thank you again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  53. Thank you for writing. I’m sorry to hear about your parents, but I’m glad I can be of some help. Spreading awareness so we don’t feel so isolated and alone is important, so thank you for sharing this on Facebook. Be well. Best of luck to you and your parents.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Inspirational and informative. Great post. Thank you for the information. I suffer from depression. Invisible illness and the stigmas that come with them. Best of luck and I’m pulling for you my friend. I’m happy to follow your blog.
    Arlo Roan
    arloroan.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

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